Jun 24, 2011

Draft: Countdown #1 - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Position: Center
Height: 6'0
Weight: 165 lbs
Shoots: Left
DOB: April 12th, 1993
Nationality: Canadian
2010-2011 Team: Red Deer Rebels
League: Western Hockey League
Stats: 69 GP - 31 G - 75 A - 106 P - 51 PIM
Playoffs: 9 GP - 4 G - 7 A - 11 P - 6 PIM

CH: Nugent-Hopkins is definitely the best player in the draft, and should go first overall tonight to the Edmonton Oilers. That said, he has always been a legitimate top-5 pick, but really stepped his game up this year with 106 points in 69 games for the Red Deer Rebels. His skating is outstanding, as are his offensive instincts and hockey sense. His only real knock is that he will never be a real physical forward. Nugent-Hopkins is best served to spend another year in Red Deer getting stronger, so that he will make an easier transition into the NHL in 2012-13. If he is not with the Oilers next season, he will be the first 1st overall pick since Erik Johnson in 2006 to not jump immediately into the NHL. Even if he does have to wait, the sky is the limit for the kid. He is the only forward in the draft that I believe will become a sure-fire first line player in the NHL. To be alongside Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, and Magnus Paarjavi - the Oilers have a great future ahead of them.

AT: Very strong skater, absolutely incredible stick handling skills, playmaking abilities of Zeus himself and hockey sense that has been consistently related to that of The Great One's. RNH has, in my mind, solidified himself as the number one pick. If I was the Islanders picking at 1 I'd go for Larsson most likely, but RNH completes an incredible set of youth in the Oilers organization. He seems to be pretty NHL ready in terms of his play, although he's a very small kid. Worst case scenario could have him playing 9 games in the NHL before going back to juniors, although as Carey said the number one pick not playing immediately in the NHL is a rarity. RNH should be a 60 point player this year and afterwards, anything is possible. Should be exciting to watch him develop just as it was with Hall this year.

CH: As far as the Islanders go, it's obviously hard to see Nugent-Hopkins dropping anywhere past #2 in the draft. The only way the Isles will wind up drafting him is if they trade up with Colorado or Edmonton, which seems very unlikely at this point. All in all, the Isles have a chance at #5 to pick an impact player for years to come - it just won't be Nugent-Hopkins. 

AT: Not gonna happen. Most signs point to the Oilers going for RNH, or at the very worst going for Larsson. They'll stay put unless they get a total sweetheart deal.

Most likely to be drafted: 1-2

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